Ask Barb: Getting Decision Makers on the Phone

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Nov 30, 2011

Dear Barb:

Thank you for accepting my invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Perhaps you’d be open to offering some suggestions as to the most effective ways to get decision makers (Director, VP and C-Suite executives) on the phone.  Once I speak with them in real time, I have no problems conducting sales presentations and closing them on using my recruiting services. After being in outside (medical device) sales for many years, I still struggle with getting past their administrative assistants, which is curious, since I never had any problems, previously.

Can you please help? Thank you for your time and kind attention.

Robin S. Newhall, CA 

Dear Robin:

The best way to get through to your decision maker is to have their name in advance. You can accomplish this either by researching social networks or websites which often list the names of your targets.

Another way to obtain names is to call a receptionist between the hours of 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and ask for the correct spelling of the name of the person you need to contact.

For example: “Would you please give me the correct spelling of your MIS Director’s name?”

If you are asked why you need this information, give a simple answer. You are sending some information to them and want to make sure you have the correct spelling of their name and exact title. When you ask for the spelling vs. asking for the name itself, most receptionists will assume you have a name! This is a very effective way to obtain names.

When you call in and ask for the person by name rather than by title, your chances of being transferred greatly improve. If you are asked the reason for your call, there are several effective responses:

  1. I’m calling for a referral
  2. The reason for the call is personal
  3. I have previously mailed information and was following–up, _________ is expecting my call
  4. The reason for my call is to get some additional information
  5. I’ve been networking with a number of professionals and was given _______’s name as someone who might be able to lead me in the right direction. I would greatly appreciate it if you would connect my call.

If you’re dealing with a receptionist, their job is to give out information. If the gatekeeper is a secretary, one of their functions is to screen what they deem to be unimportant or sales calls. They must see the benefit to their employer if they are expected to put your call through. Use these ideas and you will get through to your targets.

Barb Bruno, CPC, CTS

Would you like to Ask Barb a question? Email her at Each month in The Fordyce Letter print edition, Barbara Bruno answers questions from individuals in the Recruiting Profession. We will bring you some of these Q&A responses from Barb each week on

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